toronto ferry

Toronto's notoriously chaotic ferry terminal might actually be tolerable this year

Videos and images of congested lines at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal make rounds on social media every summer as hundreds of residents and tourists alike line up to make the short harbour crossing to the Toronto Islands. 

The City's ferry fleet carries more than 1.4 million passengers annually on its primary ferry vessels, and although well-maintained, the current ferries are between 50 to 100 years old and well beyond the average industry lifespan. 

To better manage the crowds at the ferry terminal, Mayor Olivia Chow says the City is working to make several improvements, including hiring more staff to keep up with ridership. 

"It’s getting a facelift. There's a lot more we need to do on the ferry dock because it's crowded," Chow said

The terminal, which is named after Chow's late husband and former leader of the NDP, is also being repainted and getting new maps as part of the improvements, according to a report by CityNews

Aside from the planned upgrades, Chow said travellers can purchase their ferry tickets online ahead of their visit to keep lines moving. 

Over the next few years, congestion at the ferry terminal should ease up, as the City is beginning to replace its aging ferry fleet of four ferries with electric vessels by building supporting electrical infrastructure at the travel hub. 

Improvements planned for the new fleet include more efficient passenger flow while boarding, upgraded accessibility with slightly wider ramps, enclosed areas for shelter, greater start and stop speeds, accessible washrooms, and increased passenger capacity. 

Funding has been secured for two of the four electric ferries  — which are designed to carry 1,300 passengers — but funding for the other two ferries is still subject to approval in future capital budgets, according to the City. 

Between late 2024 and 2024, supporting electric infrastructure work is expected to take place at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal while the two electric ferries are projected to arrive in Toronto by late 2025. 

By early 2026, the commissioning process is expected to begin for the two electric ferries, and by mid-2026, they are projected to be phased into operation and start taking passengers. 

Lead photo by

Informa Plus/Shutterstock

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